I’m finishing up a Masters in Biomedical Engineering and moving out to the Midwest, hopefully job offer in hand. My parents are graciously handing me down our old family car: a well worn 1998 Mazda MPV Allsport 4wd which I have maintained with my brother since we’ve had it.
Most recently, I learned how to replace a staked in u joint and balance a driveshaft using a pair of hose clamps (works like a charm). The car’s got 142k miles on it, and seems to constantly need minor repairs, nothing that would leave me stranded yet, but I’m OCD about every accessory on my car working and that it be kept in tip top shape cosmetically. To this end, I’ve been fighting the losing battle against rust, undercoating the car with oil, and I’ve welded patch panels on the front fender bottoms and rocker panels.
Additionally, parts tend to be hard to find and expensive for this car, everything has to be ordered from OEM suppliers. This spring I’m going to replace the A/C drier (there’s excessive moisture in the system) and apply POR15 to the underside. The car’s a fantastic highway cruiser, with a perfect seating position, I can drive 10 hours and not be fatigued. At the same time, highway fuel economy is only in the 19-20 mpg range, city driving is 15. The interior is cavernous, and that’ll be useful when I move all my things out.
My question: Do I fix it up one more time and sell it? Then buy another used car (open to suggestions) with better fuel economy and with less to go wrong (all the 4wd hardware, dual A/C system, moonroof, etc)? Or do I keep the car, living with the subpar fuel economy and the potential for things going wrong without me having a garage to work on them (will probably live in an apartment).
The 1st gen MPV’s suffered from slipshod transmissions, excessive lifter noise, abysmal fuel economy, 1980’s era aerodynamics, and overmatched engines.
Sounds like the perfect beater to me!
Seriously, you need to get an extra pair of eyes to look at this vehicle and see if you missed any big gaping holes or fluid leakage. If I remember right, these models like to leave puddle on the ground a bit once they get right around the 10 year mark.
Is everything sorta kinda good? Then keep it.
You may want to sell it if you find that your biggest deduction from your new paycheck turns out to be all things automotive. But let’s face facts here. You have no job security at the moment. None. So why the heck would you buy something else?
I would keep the MPV for a long while. If your commute is short, I would even keep it until it croaks. Or at least the point where the cost of repairs exceeds the price of another one just like it. These things have even less demand than the other boxy rear-wheel-drive vans of that era. The Astro was a great work vehicle. The Aerostar was great because it is primarily made up of parts from the Ford surplus bin.
The MPV was…long lived.
I will offer one compliment. Your van is probably the closest thing to a Volvo 240 wagon Mazda will ever make. It’s an underpowered RWD vehicle… but without the hip factor. It’s great because they are cheap to buy and if you know how to fix em’, you can keep em’. Which is what a beater should be all about.
You got a free car that you can fix yourself. Yeah, you need to keep this thing until it either dies or until you are sure you have a good job with the prospect of being paid long enough to stomach a long-term car payment.
Why? Because I don’t see a Mazda MPV in this condition being worth much more than scrap to anyone, running or not.
Start thinking about what is a reasonable budget for your next ride, and dream about it until the MPV kicks the bucket.